When your dog exhibits bad dog behavior and your correct him, does your dog think his name is ‘No’? Silly question? No not really, it actually is a question I often ask of many owners requesting my help on a dog problem.
Owners usually react to their dog’s behavior with a loud resounding “NO!” or “NO DAMMIT!” which becomes the word or words dogs most often hear in the home. They cringe to avoid the inevitable correction that follows. It’s no wonder your dog may begin to think his name is “NO!” or “NO DAMMIT!” These loud corrections come about as dogs naturally react to the unwanted activity in the home – barking at screaming kids, chasing running kids, chewing on a couch pillow and the list goes on.
Owners react to the bad behavior their dogs are exhibiting instead of addressing the cause of the behavior. For example, if they correct the kids from screaming, this will stop the dog from barking. If they exercise the dog more frequently and provide him with acceptable chew toys, chewing on the pillow will most likely stop as well.
The stress causing the dog to exhibit these behavior problems is because of what the owner has or has not done. For example, the owner usually “has not” provided consistent rules and expectations but “has” provided their dog with an over abundance of free love and affection. Temper the love and affection, set consistent rules and address the problem in a more positive way. For example, instead of yelling, “No!” at your puppy with anger or frustration, decide what you would prefer your puppy do then train him to perform the good behavior.
The fact that I see so many new owners with dog problems leads me to believe that many owners do set the “bar of expectation” too low for their dogs resulting in harsh and emotional corrections when their dogs don’t give them the behavior they expect.
Let’s take a look at some of the reasons of the reasons the bar might have been set too low resulting in harsh corrections:
- Owners delay training thinking their dog will grow out of it.
- Some think the behavior is “cute” – like a jumpy new puppy. House guests perpetuate the jumping because they too think it is cute and they just want to pick the puppy up which reinforces the jumping.
- Sometimes as puppies, dogs are good little angels. When they reach adolescence, behavior problems have surfaced.
You wouldn’t delay training your child, would you?
Dogs are like family too and in that sense, training for dogs should always start immediately. And, the ground rules for your dogs should be the same as they are for your kids. Set your expectations high. Let them know that they will be rewarded for good behavior.
For example, kids are taught to say “Please” or “May I” for things they want and politely greet your friends when they come over. It should be no different for dogs. Kids that are taught what behaviors their parents expect at home and out in public are less stressed knowing what to do. Setting consistent rules, boundaries and expectations is your first step to eliminating stress which causes behavior problems.
Dogs as well should be taught good dog behaviors you expect from them at home and out in public and should be reinforced daily until they “get it.” This usually takes about 6 weeks of dog training to teach what dog behavior you expect (sit, down or place, etc..) – and in what setting or context you expect it – just like kids. No double standard.
Our Promise to Sammy and to Each Other
When we first got Sammy at 8 weeks of age and started his puppy training we made a promise. We would only associate his name with love, praise, good things and coming to us. We would never use his name to correct him. For the last 8 years we have succeeded. Another important part of our correction process with Sammy was to shoot for 100% emotionally-free corrections. I will admit it was hard to do early on where it counted the most but the benefits are seen every day in Sammy’s stellar behavior which we reinforce each and every day as well. He is an AWESOME dog as you can see by his picture. Handsome too isn’t he.
You can have a great dog too.
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“Together, We Can Raise a Happy and Obedient Dog”
Jim Burwell, professional dog trainer for 25+ years, has a profound understanding of dog behavior and the many things, we as humans, do that influence that behavior – good or bad. Jim has the ability to not only steer dogs and puppies down the right path but to also train the owners to understand their part in having a great dog.